If raucous parades and green beer aren’t your thing, why not catch a celluloid dose of Irish culture this St. Patrick’s Day? We asked Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, a former Dublin bureau chief who has covered Ireland for more than two decades, for some Irish film suggestions. We’ve broken them down into categories, such as “The Boston-Irish Connection,” “For All Ages,” and “The Tearjerker,” and offer up additional film suggestions so you can get your on-screen fill of the Emerald Isle. Next
Hunger (2008) chronicles the final weeks in the life of Bobby Sands, the leader of the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike in Norther Ireland.
Kevin Cullen says: Steve McQueen’s meditation on the 1981 republican hunger strikes, “Hunger,” and Michael Fassbender’s haunting portrayal of Bobby Sands (left) makes this the best film done on the subject. Fassbender starved himself like Sands, and it is painful to watch his emaciated body waste away. Next
The Mismatched-Cop Comedy
The Guard (2011) pits Don Cheadle (left) as an FBI agent investigating drug-smuggling with an Irish cop, played by Brendan Gleeson.
Kevin Cullen says: Gleeson plays a tired, cynical cop in Connemara who lights up only for booze and hookers. Cheadle is the FBI agent who gets the best of his Irish partner. The screenplay is by John Michael McDonagh, brother of Martin McDonagh who made Gleeson only slightly less cynical in “In Bruges.” Next
The Magdalene Sisters (2002) stars Nora-Jane Noone (left) as the coy Bernadette, one of four girls who are considered to be “sinners” and have been sent to Magdalene Asylums so that they can find redemption.
Kevin Cullen says: “’The Magdalene Sisters’ captured institutional abuse of kids and women in a haunting way.”
Also in this category: “The Field” (1990), “Tristan + Isolde” (2006), and “Veronica Guerin” (2003). Next
The Boston-Irish Connection
Boondock Saints (1999) stars Sean Patrick Flanery (right) and Norman Reedus as Connor and Murphy McManus, twin brothers who take it upon themselves to rid Boston of violent gangsters by any means possible. Willem Dafoe stars as the comedic and quirky FBI agent tracking the brothers’ trail of destruction.
Also in this category: “Blown Away” (1994), “The Matchmaker” (1997), and “The Departed” (2006). Next
The movie Once stars Glen Hansard (left) and Marketa Irglova (right) as struggling musicians in Dublin. The pair wrote all but one of the songs in the film, including “Falling Slowly” for which they won the Academy Award.
Also in this category: “The Commitments” (1991) and “Hear My Song” (1991). Next
For All Ages
The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) stars Jeni Courtney as Fiona, a little girl who hears of a grand story about how her baby brother was swept to sea in his cradle and has been living with seals.
Kevin Cullen says: “’The Secret of Roan Inish’ is one of the best indie films I’ve seen about Ireland. It’s about a great myth, but captures the Irish sense of mythology.”
Also in this category: “Into the West” (1992) and “Dancing at Lughnasa” (1998). Next
The Literary Film
Angela’s Ashes, based on the autobiography of the same name by Frank McCourt, details McCourt’s difficult childhood growing up poor in Limerick City in the 1930s and 1940s.
Also in this category:”Da” (1988), “The Field” (1990), “Dancing at Lughnasa” (1998), “The Dead” (1987), which Kevin Cullen says is “the best [James] Joyce on film,” and “The Snapper” (1993), which Cullen calls “perhaps the best adaptation of a Roddy Doyle novel, even better that the more popular musical ‘The Commitments.’” Next
The Crowd Pleaser
Waking Ned Devine (1998) stars David Kelly (left) as Michael O’Sullivan and Ian Bannen (right) as Jackie O’Shea, two friends who attempt to redeem a dead man’s winning lottery ticket so they can claim his windfall.
Also in this category: “My Left Foot” (1989), “A Man of No Importance” (1995), and “Once” (2006). Next
Oldie but goodie
The Quiet Man, starring Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne, was shot on location in Cong, Ireland in 1952 and was directed by John Ford.
Kevin Cullen says: “’The Quiet Man’ is a classic and probably exposed more people to Ireland than anything in the 20th century. It’s corny, but great kitsch.”
Also in this category: “Man of Aran” (1934), “The Informer” (1935), and “Odd Man Out” (1947). Next
Tom Cruise (right) and Nicole Kidman (left) play traveling companions who emigrate from Ireland to the United States to pursue the American Dream in the 1992 film Far and Away.
Kevin Cullen says: “Tom Cruise’s accent in ‘Far and Away’ was laugh-out-loud funny.”
Also in this category: “Patriot Games” (1992), “The Devil’s Own” (1997), and “The Jackal” (1997). Next
The Irish Mob
Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film Gangs of New York, starring Cameron Diaz (left), Daniel Day-Lewis (right), and Leonardo DiCaprio, follows the gang activities of Irish immigrants in 19th century New York.
Also in this category: “Angels with Dirty Faces” (1938), “I Went Down” (1997), “The General” (1998), “The Departed” (2006), and “In Bruges” (2008). Next
Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis stars opposite Fiona Shaw (left) in the 1989 biopic My Left Foot. The film is the true story of writer Christy Brown, who has cerebral palsy and can only move his left foot.
Kevin Cullen says: “Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of the disabled writer Christy Brown in ‘My Left Foot’ was brilliant.”
Also in this category: “In the Name of the Father” (1993) and “The Boxer” (1997), two films starring Day-Lewis which Cullen calls “terrific, gritty, and realistic.” Next
The Troubles (Early)
‘Michael Collins‘ stars (from left) Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson, and Aidan Quinn in this 1996 film about Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, who worked to establish Ireland as a free state in the 1920s. The film was nominated for two Oscars for cinematography and music. Next
The Troubles (Modern)
The Oscar-winning film ‘The Crying Game‘ stars Forest Whitaker (left) as a British soldier who has been taken captive by an Irish Republican Army volunteer, played by Stephen Rea (right).
Kevin Cullen says: “Neil Jordan’s ‘The Crying Game’ is perhaps the best film made about ‘The Troubles.’”
Also in this category: “Cal” (1984), “Hidden Agenda” (1990), “Some Mother’s Son” (1996), and “Bloody Sunday” (2002). Next
The Scenic Film
Sir John Mills stars in Ryan’s Daughter, the 1970 film about an Irish girl and British soldier who fall in love during WWI. The film takes place on the picturesque Dingle Peninsula on the Western coast of the country.
Kevin Cullen says: “’Ryan’s Daughter’ exposed many millions to the sweeping beauty of [Ireland].”
Also in this category: “The Quiet Man” (1952), “The Field” (1990), “Into the West” (1992), and “The Secret of Roan Inish” (1994). Next
The Lead Balloon
The romantic comedy Leap Year (2010), starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, follows one woman’s determined quest to get married to the perfect guy – despite what fate has in store for her.
Kevin Cullen says: “Leap Year,” 2010’s equivalent of “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” proves that Hollywood has not completely got over its belief that the Irish are a people to be patronized. God knows who Amy Adams upset to get cast in this. The script makes “P.S. I Love You” read like Joyce. Next
Short But Sweet
Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom, or in English, My Name is Yu Ming, is a short film about a bored Chinese shopkeeper who randomly puts his finger on a twirling desktop Globe and decides to move to Dublin. His research shows that Ireland’s native language is Gaelic, so he spends six months learning the language.
Kevin Cullen says: Perhaps the best film made about Ireland in recent years, capturing it in all its post-Celtic Tiger contradictions. The film packs in 13 minutes the humor and the sadness of what is increasingly an Ireland distancing itself from a lot that is good about it. Next
(Another) Short But Sweet
The Shore (2011) traces two lifelong friends who had a falling out during the Northern Ireland conflict, but are brought back together 25 years later.
Kevin Cullen says: Terry George’s “The Shore,” which just won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short, is a lovely little meditation on the power of redemption and reconciliation set in Northern Ireland, where they are trying to do all that in real life. Back to the beginning
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